Thursday, November 8, 2012

Chrismakkah is right around the corner, are you prepared?

Trying to figure out what to get the kids on your holiday list besides gift cards and underwear? Here are some ideas:

  •  Lego Club Subscription- specify age for Jr. version
  •  A Refrigerator Box- can be turned into absolutely anything
  •  Check Craigs Lists for free toys and clothing that may be gently used
  •  Hold a toy/clothing swap for New To You excitement
  •  Make a superhero cape from an old pillow case or towel, if you are good at sewing

Under $10
  • Find some interesting things for all ages at ThinkGeek like zombie jerkey, giant plush microbes, sun art paper  and LED construction bricks
  • Visit 5 below, Christmas Tree Shop, and Job Lot.  You can get a ton of stocking stuffers and great gifts for under $5 each
  • Thinkfun has a variety of games and puzzles under $10 for the cognitive kiddo
  •  Playdoh- enough said

Under $20
  • KiwiCrate gift/project box.- a single box for Crafty Christmas or Handmade Hannukah is 19.95 (or you can set up a 3 or six month subscription for $60 and up)
  • Movie Tickets: go to AAA for a bonus pack discount
  • Spot It by Blue Orange is a fast paced  game that can travel just about anywhere           
  • Animal Monster hand tattoos can add a laugh to any conversation, as kids and adults make their hands talk like a giraffe

Under $50
  • Legos- can’t go wrong
  • At UncommonGoods you can find some incredibly unique items including the Gummy Bear Lights and a fire hose belt

And you must be a grandparent:
  • Full Year Monthly Subscription to Kiwi Crate might set you back over $200, but each month an overflow of creative juices will occur within the home to which you send it
  •  Family Museum/Zoo Subrsciptions- I love the idea of the gift that keeps going all year round. Not only are you supporting a local business but you are encouraging growth and development
  • Savings Bonds- for those under two, or that have everything under the sun

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

ThinkFunAnalysis: Shapeometry

During Sandy's visit to the northeast, the boys and I passed the time with games, including another I received from ThinkFun: Shapeometry.

Geared towards second to eighth graders, Shapeometry is a spatial game that comes with a set of blue and green 'Tetris-like' shape tiles as well as a problem solving card deck. Each challenge builds in complexity, and I have to admit that it provided a challenge to me as well.

This mathematical match up activity can played a few different ways. As a single person, which I did at first to test my reasoning, the goal is to follow the cards that tell you to make the same overall shape with two different sets of blocks. It starts fairly easy, which I am glad to say I was able to do. Then it gets a little harder as you work your way through intermediate, advanced and expert.

As a family, we put our brains aged 4 to 33 to work, getting to card 19, which is in the intermediate section.  By that time, we had played for about a half hour and our brains were getting fried. But it was fun. We could work together, problem solve and build spatial reasoning.

I also had a group of 4th and 5th graders try it out.  They had varying abilities, some had strengths in math, others in social skills, and yet others in language. After demonstrating the basic idea of the game, they went to work. In about 20 minutes, the students had teamed up one set taking care of blue, the other took green.  They were able to configure through challenge #9.  When asked what they thought about it, the general consensus what that it was hard but they wanted to see if they could get farther in the challenges.

To modify the game, we built on top of one set.  I even considered placing a piece of paper on top of one set to see the "whole" from its parts.  As part of a math center, you could set out the challenge cards that fit the needs and abilities of the children.  ThinkFun went as far as to provide skill alignment to the Common Core Standards to help justify the use of the game within the classroom.

This game is challenging and therefore can be frustrating.  But if used to support a math curriculum or center, or as a game in an arsenal of family fun, Shapeometry can definitely shape youngsters' (and adults') minds to think outside the box.